Monday, December 19, 2011

Feature Funnies #1 and Police Comics #1 for sale on ebay

I stumbled across two key Quality Comics on ebay today. The first was
October 1937
Quality Comics' very first issue, Feature Funnies #1. This issue had no super-heroes. They wouldn't start trickling in until Busy Arnold launched his second title, Smash Comics, in 1939. Instead, this issue was filled almost entirely with reprints from the three syndicates with whom he had partnered. The CGC graded price of $1,250 on this book seems in line, but I'm no expert! I recently bought Feature Funnies #2 in a coverless condition. It was not $1000. (In fact I gotta get that scanned—there's no high res version at the DCM...)

The second book on ebay is Police Comics #1 (Aug. 1941) the legendary first appearance of Plastic Man and Phantom Lady (also the Human Bomb and Firebrand).

The asking price here is $1549 but it lacks a hard grade. The seller has many Golden Age books for sale, so one might presume that he is savvy about the condition vs. price. He mentions that it WOULD be Fine if not for some damage. I don't buy these sorts of things often, but is it really the buyer's job to suss out the real grade on a comic being sold by an experienced collector?

Va-va-voom! Phantom Lady shines her headlights
for the first time in Police Comics #1.
Still, this price compares to a 5.0 in the sales on Heritage Auctions (and some higher grades that were achieved through restoration). I get alerts from ebay about Quality comics for sale, and this is the first time I have seen this one. Heritage has sold many of them for under $1000. Those with the highest grades sold for over $30,000

I noticed something else in the descriptions of these books that has always bothered me: "white pages." What a misnomer! For the most part, there was no such thing as white comic book page until the 1980s. Yes, yes, I know I'm being literal here, but isn't comics grading supposed to be very persnickety? Seriously, how is anyone supposed to judge the condition of a Golden Age comic by the description of the paper color, unless it's described as "yellowed"... is that the distinction I'm missing here? What is considered the appropriate terminology?

Paper stock of an issue fresh off the stand in the 1940s would probably have been light gray (off-white?) in tone just as new newsprint is today (I'm painfully aware; I'm an art director for a newsprint publication). Yellowing happens over time. Even the laudable "cream" description is not in my estimation, an original color for these books.

To his credit, the seller of Feature Funnies #1 describes "cream to off white pages." That of Police Comics #1 writes "off-white to white pages." Grr… I don't buy it.

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